Women are being brought to Bermuda from the Dominican Republic to work as prostitutes, Immigration bosses have claimed.

The Caribbean island is also viewed as a hot-spot for 'sham marriages'.

In some cases young women have agreed to wed much older Bermudian men or even to have a child with them in order to escape lives of poverty.

It is understood that Dominican has become a 'sex tourism' destination for some Bermudian men.

The industry is big business and websites even tempt tourists with dating vacations offering the prospect of hooking up with pretty Latina women as an enticement to visit the country.

"Many clients get engaged on their first trip to our dating resorts," boasts one site. The 'dating' business also occurs less formally in the Dominican Republic with many wealthy westerners aware that they can pick up attractive younger women, looking for a way out of poverty.

Now the number of older Bermudian men marrying young, attractive women from the country, which borders Haiti, has raised eyebrows at the Department of Immigration.

It is one of three countries, along with Panama and the Philippines, to be targeted by new Visa restrictions.

Minister Colonel David Burch said the new requirement would enable his department to vet the legitimacy of some marriages.

He accepted that some may see it as a moral issue rather than a legal one. But he insisted it was Bermuda's social services that picked up the pieces when things went 'pear shaped'.

And he said it was in the interests of the country to monitor the trend more closely.

"For some time now concern has been expressed about the ill treatment and the potential for abuse and victimization involving nationals from these three countries.

"When persons want to escape economic hardship, whether it be pursued through a sham marriage or by having a child for a Bermudian, problems do occur.

"The Department of Immigration has received complaints and investigated cases where women have been brought to Bermuda specifically from the Dominican Republic for the purposes of prostitution.

"There have also been a number of cases where marriages with persons from Panama, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic involved significantly older Bermudian men married to women in their early twenties.

"Moreover, when the Bermudian men arrive at the L. F. Wade International Airport to collect their spouses, often they cannot communicate with them as they do not speak each others' respective language.

"Requiring nationals from Panama, the Philippines, and the Dominican Republic to become visa-controlled would permit the Department of Immigration to vet applications to determine whether a marriage is a sham or a bona-fide union."

Nationals from several countries, including Jamaica, already require visas to move to or visit Bermuda.

Minister Burch said anyone wanting to come to the island to visit relatives would be granted a travel visa - providing they were given a transit visa to come through the U.S.